The King of Love My Shepherd Is

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Posted on 21st August 2020 under The Rectory Bulletin | Hymn Stories


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

In 1851, the Rev Henry Williams Baker became the vicar of Monkland, near Leominster. If you’ve ever driven through that village, you’ll have realised that it is not a sprawling metropolis. It contains seventy-two houses,, a church, a cheese-making diary and a pub. And a bend in the road.

Back in the day, Anglican clergy were thick on the ground and so it was that Baker was given this small parish to look after. Not entirely overrun with work, many Anglican clergy filled their time with other pursuits such as archaeology and local history. For Baker, though, his passion was for hymns.

“The King of Love” is a paraphrase of Psalm 23 which has only in recent years become overshadowed by “The Lord’s My Shepherd”. Baker had an ace up his sleeve to ensure it would be published: he was chairman of the committee which put together the very first edition of “Hymns Ancient and Modern”!

Since the hymn is a paraphrase of a Psalm, it has proved to be a great way of getting scriptural ideas to stick in the mind. In its verses we find the great image of God guiding his people, and protecting them as they walk through difficult lands. We don’t escape suffering as Christians, but we do have one to guide us through them.

Sixteen years after his arrival at Monkland, Baker died, and as he passed he faintly said:

Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His Shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine for ever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And, where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I stray'd,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death's dark vale I fear no ill
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy Cross before to guide me.

Thou spread'st a table in my sight,
Thy unction grace bestoweth,
And O the transport of delight
with which my cup o'erfloweth!

And so, through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never:
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house for ever!

Perfect?

20th August 2020

Love One Another

22nd August 2020

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